Ulcerative colitis and diet

Nutrition also helps fight the symptoms of ulcerative colitis, a chronic disease of the intestinal system.

Ulcerative colitis is a chronic disease that affects the gastrointestinal tract and, together with Crohn’s disease, is one of the so-called inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) in Anglo-Saxon terminology.

They are disorders characterized by a chronic inflammatory process that in ulcerative colitis is limited to the mucous membrane of the colon and rectum, while in Crohn’s disease it can affect any segment of the gastrointestinal tract. In both pathologies, extra-intestinal areas (joints, skin, eye, etc.) may also be involved.

The role of nutrition

Proper nutrition is part of the management of these intestinal diseases: it is important that patients follow a nutritious diet and avoid foods that can worsen symptoms and health status.

Dietary and lifestyle changes can help control symptoms and lengthen the time between flare-ups of this disease.

To counteract the problem it can be useful to keep a food diary and take note of all the foods consumed throughout the day and how you feel. If you find that certain foods are associated with particular symptoms, you can try eliminating them from your diet.

In addition, it is advisable to contact a nutritionist who, in agreement with the attending physician, can indicate the correct diet for your disorder and recommend the right foods to eat.

Permitted and non-permitted foods

Here are some tips that can help:

– limit dairy food products: many people with inflammatory bowel disease notice that symptoms how diarrhea, abdominal pain and bloating improve by limiting or eliminating dairy products

– prefer low-fat foods: species in case of Crohn’s disease of the small intestine, it can be Difficult absorption and digestion of fats. These elements may help worsen diarrhoea caused by colitis Ulcerative. It is therefore good to avoid butter, margarine, creams and also fried foods

– limit the intake of foods rich in fiber: in case of inflammatory bowel disease, foods such as fruit, Fresh vegetables and whole grains can worsen typical symptoms of the disorder. If raw vegetables cause discomfort, it is advisable Try steaming. It should be remembered that you can have more problems with foods from the cabbage family, such as broccoli and cauliflower, but also with nuts, seeds, corn and popcorn

– avoid spicy foods, as well as alcohol and coffee, which can cause further ailments.

Another recommended strategy is to make small meals: those suffering from these inflammatory bowel diseases feel better by consuming five or six snacks instead of two or three meals Abundant.

It is also advisable to try to take plenty of fluids every day to combat the dehydration that occurs later to diarrhea. Water is the best drink. Products that contain caffeine, on the other hand, stimulates intestinal motility and can worsen the situation, while carbonated drinks often produce gas and are not then indicate.

Inflammatory bowel disease can interfere with the ability to absorb certain nutrients. And since the diet could be limited, it is often indicated to use, under medical supervision, of multivitamin and mineral supplements.

Recommended foods Foods to avoid or limit
low-fat foods Dairy products
Steamed vegetables Vegetables from the cabbage family, such as broccoli and cauliflower
Liquids Spicy foods
Lean meat Alcohol
Cooked ham, bresaola Coffee
Eggs Butter, margarine, creams
Lean fish Walnuts
Dry biscuits Seeds
Freshly squeezed fruit juices Corn and popcorn
Fresh cheeses Fried foods

Symptoms and manifestations

According to estimates by the Italian Society of Colon-Proctology, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease affect over 100,000 people in Italy. The incidence would be 8.1 new cases per 100,000 adults. The disorder occurs equally in males and females. In most cases, diagnosis occurs in early adulthood, with a second peak incidence between 55 and 65 years.Among the typical symptoms of ulcerative colitis there are discharges of diarrhea with stools mixed with blood and mucus, the more frequent the greater the severity of the disease. In cases of localization of inflammation at the level of the rectum, constipation may also appear.

Ulcerative colitis can begin in a mild form, but also with a particularly severe acute attack. The course is characterized by phases of activity interspersed with periods of remission, with a possible risk of complications over time.

When the disease is active, signs and symptoms may include: abdominal pain, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, fever, weight loss, signs of malnutrition.

Although progress has been made in research into ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, the definitive cause of these diseases has not yet been identified. The latest theories hypothesize that, under the influence of environmental, genetic, dietary or intestinal microbiota factors, and perhaps also due to certain pathogens, the immune system of the intestinal mucosa is improperly stimulated.

It is very important to understand what triggers these forms of diarrhea and what kind of suffering the intestinal mucosa undergoes. These are inflammatory processes that include, in some cases, real ulcerations, causing bleeding and pouring mucus into the lumen of the intestine. In the most severe forms there may also be complications such as increased heart rate (tachycardia), anemia, loss of strength and appetite, decreased circulating proteins and imbalance of important substances such as potassium, sodium and chlorine.

Finally, it has been hypothesized that ulcerative colitis may be associated with an increased risk of cancer. However, according to the Italian Society of Colon Proctology, the occurrence of colon cancer in patients suffering from ulcerative colitis is slightly higher than that of the population not affected by the inflammatory disease.


There are several tests to reach a correct diagnosis of this pathology. Blood samples may be prescribed to check for anemia, a sign of bleeding in the intestine. Blood tests can also reveal a high number of white blood cells, indicating inflammation in the body, while the analysis of a stool sample is used to understand if there is bleeding, infection or inflammation in the intestine.

Your doctor may also decide to perform a CT scan or MRI. These tests are able to highlight abnormalities that allow to diagnose IBD.

Sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy use a special probe equipped with a microscopic camera. You can examine the rectum and colon for inflammation, bleeding or ulcers and also perform a biopsy. The tissue taken during the biopsy is analyzed under a microscope to confirm a diagnosis.

Symptoms and diagnostic tests allow the doctor to establish the exact nature of the disorder. Ulcerative colitis should not be confused with the more common irritable bowel syndrome. In the latter case, the alterations produce similar symptoms, such as abdominal pain and cramps, bloating and changes in intestinal functions, such as diarrhea and constipation, stomach pain. The symptoms of the digestive system change over time: there may be periods with very intense episodes, like others in which the symptoms subside or disappear altogether.


Although there is currently no cure for ulcerative colitis in medicine, therapies can significantly reduce its symptoms and can even lead to remission. Treatment can be done with medical therapies, surgery, dietary supplementation or a combination of these methods.

Today, different classes of drugs are used to treat IBD: antidiarrheals, aminosalicylates, antibiotics, biological therapy, immunomodulators and corticosteroids. A drug used is, for example, mesalamine, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID). It is useful both in the treatment of the active phases of the pathology and in the prevention of its relapses.

If the disease begins with an acute attack, hospitalization is required. Specialists subject the patient in the acute phase to intensive treatment, with high doses of cortisone, for about 7-10 days. Liquids, plasma and electrolytes, as well as high-calorie substances, are also administered. In more than half of the cases the response obtained is very good. If the attacks are mild or moderate, local treatment is usually used, i.e. the use of drugs administered rectally.

In some cases the specialist may decide to opt for surgery, which can be carried out as an alternative therapy in case of failure of medical therapy, in severe forms, or as a therapeutic choice in the case of impoverishment of quality of life or poor response to treatment. Thanks to the improvements in surgical technique, this intervention must be considered as a valid therapeutic tool. It is up to the specialist to determine the situations in which it is necessary to resort to an operation.

Finally, since stress can be responsible for the worsening of the symptoms of the disease, simple solutions such as physical exercise, even light, are recommended to combat it: this relieves depression and promotes intestinal functions.

Also useful is the biofeedback technique, to be performed with the help of an expert, to reduce stress and muscle tension. For the same purpose you can perform breathing exercises by practicing disciplines such as yoga.

Joycelyn Elders is the author and creator of EmpowerEssence, a health and wellness blog. Elders is a respected public health advocate and pediatrician dedicated to promoting general health and well-being.

The blog covers a wide range of topics related to health and wellness, with articles organized into several categories.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *